We’re particularly enjoying the posts on Princess Cruises’ 50 Essential Experiences, a big-company travel blog that aims to do more than sell product. The blog, in fact, discusses just what it proposes: “essential experiences” that merit a place on anyone’s travel list.
Today’s story, A Soldier Returns … as a Tourist, was particularly meaningful. Penned by Alan Buckelew, president and CEO of Princess Cruises, the post discusses Buckelew’s return to Vietnam, as a civilian.
Vietnam was certainly higher on my own bucket list when, last spring, I traveled there with my daughter (for more on that story, visit the min-site, Cruising The Mekong).
Buckelew’s account was of a different nature. His was a soldier’s return.
I’ve posted the opening to his story below. For more of the story, visit 50 Essential Experiences.
Until a few years ago if someone had asked me to make a bucket list of countries to visit, Vietnam would have been at or near the bottom. I guess you could say, “been there, done that.” I served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from June 1969 until June 1970. I was part of a recon platoon called Fox Force. We operated in the Central Highlands of Vietnam – in the mountains and jungles of that area. Unlike any unit I’m aware of we wore red scarves – always – even on combat missions. We had a well-earned reputation, and our red scarves clearly set us apart from other soldiers in our division. We were told the enemy had a $10,000 bounty on each of us. It didn’t really matter because in the year I was part of Fox, the enemy never killed a single member of our team. We were in combat frequently but were never ambushed or surprised. If we were a baseball team, we would have ended our season with all wins and no losses, and with most games pitched as no hitters. I’m sure history books will say the U.S. lost that war, but we were ahead when I left.